Zentrum Paul Klee Bern Founded by Maurice E. and Martha Müller and the heirs of Paul Klee
Paul Klee, Angelus novus, 1920,oil transfer drawing and watercolour on paper on cardboard, Collection of the the Israel Museum, Jerusalem -
Paul Klee, Angelus novus, 1920,oil transfer drawing and watercolour on paper on cardboard, Collection of the the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
31.05.2008 – 26.10.2008

Lost Paradise. The Angel’s Gaze

An exhibition within the bounds of East of Eden. A Garden Show Exhibitions, installations and events transform the entire Zentrum – and the grounds around it – into a dynamic theme park that places the interior spaces and exterior environment in thrilling and varying reciprocal exchange.

«A Klee painting named «Angelus Novus» shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one perceives the angel of history.  His face is towards the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one catastrophe, which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.» (Walter Benjamin)

The cornerstone of the exhibition is Paul Klee’s key work Angelus Novus, which served as Walter Benjamin’s visual allegory for his «angel of history». Our exhibition Lost Paradise means to follow the horrified gaze of the angel as he looks down upon the calamities of the world from the vantage point of heaven. We have extremely fortunate circumstances to thank for the precious work being able to make the trip from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to the Zentrum Paul Klee. Complementing it will be some one hundred and fifty works by artists past and present depicting the flipside of «Klee’s Enchanted Garden»: the wreckage of progress, the world of destruction, erratically meandering individuals, life stripped bare – as well as the repeated attempts to visualise what the poet Rilke called the «totgeglaubte Park» (the park presumed dead) and place oneself in the lost paradise. The artist-couple Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger are overseeing the excrescence of a plant-like work consisting of leaf-laden bowers, distressed fruit and award-winning apples, with arboreal eruptions, irregular lights and samba merry-making till girls, crystal growths, deer antlers and hydrangea, horse manure-like tubers, funny looking shrivelled cacti, flying seeds and bluebells fashioned out of Novilan. This space-filling, intermingled amalgamation of an installation can be seen proliferating along the Zentrum Paul Klee’s Museum Street, out into Paul Klee’s Enchanted Garden and down to the Lost Paradise.